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Charter Schools: Missing the Grade

Digging through audits from more than 300 charter schools in Florida, Orlando Sentinel reporters Vicki McClure and Mary Shanklin showed the intertwined business dealings that allow school operators to make money on their publicly funded charters by leasing them buildings, loaning them money at interest rates as high as 21 percent and hiring relatives to work at the schools. While Florida never posted the audits for public consumption, the Sentinel put them online in a searchable format so parents could see the massive debt, operating losses at half of the schools, and dozens of related-party transactions. About 40 percent of the charter schools escaped report cards from the state education department, but the Sentinel compiled a database showing some of those ungraded schools were among the lowest-performing educational institutions in the state.

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